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Posted : 2007-06-03 18:07
Updated : 2007-06-03 18:07

Children Can Adopt Mothers Surname

By Park Chung-a
Staff Reporter

Sons and daughters will be able to inherit the family name of their mother or step-parents' last names under a revised Civil Law that will go into effect from Jan 1, 2008.

A revision to the Civil Law is to bring a major change in the traditional family concept of Koreans as it abolishes the ``hoju-je’’ or male-dominated family registry system, the Supreme Court said Sunday.

The current system only allows children to have the last name of their biological fathers. But the revised Civil Law will allow children to be named after either of their parents' or step-parents' last names.

Korea's family register can trace a family's history, through male ancestors for over 500 years.

Under the current system, all family members are registered under ``hoju,’’ which refers to the man that ``heads the family.’’ When a woman marries, for example, her name is removed from her father’s ``hojeok’’ or family registration record and is transferred to that of her husband.

The centuries-old system used to be the source of a fierce debate. Women’s rights organizations and civic activists have called for the abolition of the male-dominant registry system, based on Confucian tradition, for more than 50 years.

The biggest change to the registry system will be that present ``expanded family registry’’ will be abolished and replaced by an ``individual registry,’’ said the top court.

The current family registry lists detailed personal information, including birth, marriage and adoption, of the family head and all other members of his family, exposing them to the danger of personal information leaks.

Under the new registry system, every member of the family will have his or her own individual register, which will list the names of parents, spouse and children alone, court officials said, adding that it will not carry information on brothers and sisters.

``With individuals separated from the expanded family registry, the concept of family in the Korean society will change completely,’’ said a court official.

michelle@koreatimes.co.kr

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